Aretha Franklin: A life in pictures


"We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family", a statement released by Franklin's family read. You can hear it especially in her readings of material written for and made famous by others, like Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "I Say a Little Prayer", a hit for Dionne Warwick in 1967. We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on. "Her timeless hits like "Respect", "Ain't No Way", "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman", have been and will be passed down from generation to generation. And with a career spanning more than five decades, touching gospel, R&B and pop, Franklin has earned her place in the history books and in the hearts of music fans. During the recording of that first single, the one that would give the album its title, a fight erupted between Aretha's then-husband and manager Ted White and some of the musicians. Within the breath of her image, her signature syncopation, her mannerisms, and most importantly her expressed kindness, Franklin became one of the leading figures in 20th century American culture, even in quietest of moments. She blessed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s memorial service in 1968 with her sweet, soulful voice and almost two decades later became the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

"She is the undisputed Queen of Soul for all times".

The job of looking after the young Franklin fell to several women, including one who was known as the "greatest gospel singer in the world", Mahalia Jackson.

Aretha performed publicly for numerous world leaders including the Queen and at former US President Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009. Franklin also sang at the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. She started her own label, Aretha Records, in 2004.

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The singer returned to her native gospel sound with the 1972 album Amazing Grace, which became a top 10 hit, making it one of the most successful gospel-pop crossovers ever.

Nice try. Aretha laid it all out on stage, and at the end of her performance, the Queen took her well-deserved bow. Her father was C.L. Franklin, a charismatic Baptist minister and Civil Rights activist.

Despite the retirement announcement, Franklin still had dreams of opening and performing live at a Detroit nightclub named in her honor. Maybe it was her fear of flying, or maybe it was because she, like many others, believed she should have gone in with the first class. Keith Richards inducted her anyway.

Hillary Clinton said Franklin deserves "lasting gratitude" for the impact of her art.

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Here is a look back at her life and times in pictures. "We just want to send love and prayers".

Amanda Petrusich wrote about her eternal spirit and ability to answer grief with something that resembles love: "And she did it while being tough and self-assured, confident in both her capacity and her worth, thus obliterating the bad, pervasive presumption that a woman can't be tender and oh-my-goodness mighty at the same time".

Although most subsequent records - like 2011's self-released Aretha: A Woman Falling Out of Love - slipped out quieter than mounting rumors of ill health, 2014's Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics reunited the legend with her public.

Last year, the music icon announced her plans to retire, saying she would perform at "some select things".

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